You look at the schedule. You gaze at it hoping to find an opening. An open space. A small corner where an activity can squeeze in. After a bit you realize that tweaking won’t work. Rearranging activities won’t work. Looking in to carpools won’t help either. Your schedule is simply too full. So you leave it for a year. You don’t sign up for the activity that may put you over the edge.
You hold off. You don’t sign your kid up for that activity. The activity that will upset the precarious apple cart that is your family’s weekly schedule. In theory, you can say no to an activity very easily when you had never signed up for it, registered one of the kids for it, or sent any money in to the organization. It’s easy…in theory. You are O.K. with your decision, but what about your kid?
But what about if your child has asked to do the activity for not one year, but two or three? What about if he asked you if he could do it, and you had to tell him “No, sweetie, we can’t sign up for it this time as you are doing [insert activity name] and your sibling is doing [insert activity name] and we are just too busy.” And what about if your kid is a genuinely agreeable kid who takes it on the chin and never asks again? But, you are wracked with guilt…every time you see another kid in the uniform…or read on FB about a kid having fun at an activity. Guilt.
Why shouldn’t he do the activity? Why can’t you find time in the family calendar? But, you wait. Before you know it the new school year is upon you. Again you get the flyer home. Again you look at the family calendar. But this time you don’t tweak, you don’t scrutinize the calendar, you don’t worry about fitting everything in. Why? You simply decide to let your kid sign up for the activity. You decide that you will let him do the thing that he has been wanting to do forever. You justify that you will evaluate each event as it comes. You will find a way to get him to as many events as you can, but you won’t stress if you miss one or two. This is a new way of looking at things for you — the person who does every last event of every last activity without fail even if everyone is left stressed out.
Did you make the right decision to let your child sign up for that activity? The grin on your child’s face tells the story. The absolute glee he shows about joining is priceless. He can’t wait to buy his uniform. You don’t need to remind him about a special trip. Because he is already dressed and ready to go. He’s overjoyed with everything about the activity. Compliant, even. No arguments or fussing from him. He’s just happy to get to do the activity that he has wanted to do forever.
Two weekends ago my son and I embarked on an adventure to unknown territory…way out of our comfort zone. Well, at least it was out of my comfort zone. Even though I had camped twice (or was it three times?) with the Girl Scouts, campouts with the Cub Scouts are different. All family members can come. We had moms, dads, little brothers, older sisters, you name it. My experience with Girl Scouts is that it was always Mom and Girl Scout. No dads and no siblings. While I couldn’t persuade my husband to sleep out in a tent with us and my daughters were busy with activities, my son and I had a grand time.
We stayed at the Harpers Ferry KOA, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from historic Harpers Ferry, WV. While we didn’t venture to see the old town, we did take a hike in to National Park Service lands, a short walk from the KOA. On our walk, we saw cannons, John Brown’s old fort, and even saw white water rafting.
Once back at the campsite, my son was never still. He literally never stopped moving the entire time we were there. You can bet that he slept soundly that night. In fact, here’s what he and his den did in just under 24 hours:
- jumped on a moonbounce and inflatable pillow
- made a campfire
- grilled hamburgers
- washed dishes
- built another fire for s’mores
- played flashlight tag (Note to file: Pack a flashlight the next time we go camping. Rookie camper error.)
- slept in a tent
- ate a hearty breakfast…the KOA provides free pancakes. His troop provided coffee, milk, and orange juice.
- played chess with giant chess pieces
My son and I did more outdoorsy stuff than we had done in the past year. So much fun for him…and even I had a little bit fun, even though for about two weeks I was constantly reminded of the campout each time I scratched my many bugbites. Note to file: Pack bug spray the next time we campout. Second rookie camper error.